Portrait of Courage

The body of Peruvian ship’s waitress Erika Soria has been recovered from the wreck of the Concordia. It has been revealed that as the ship went down, and Captain Schettino was busy being one of the first off the ship, the young Peruvian waitress, working on her third cruise, stayed back to help dozens of passengers into the lifeboats. The last time rescued passengers saw her, she was giving her lifejacket to an elderly man.

RIP heroine Erika Soriamolina.

10 thoughts on “Portrait of Courage”

  1. I’ve been following this, on the Daily Mail – and I honestly am beginning to think, that in the event of a cruise ship sinking, you’re probably better off trusting to the guidance of the entertainment and dining-room staff, rather than the ship’s senior management…

  2. Sgt. Mom, I am not likely to be able to afford a cruise any time soon. But from what I have seen, the sinkings in the last couple of decades where the crew have abandoned the passengers have involved Italian or Greek captains. I am not saying that Italians or Greeks are not necessarily competent to captain vessels. But it seems that officers [ all on the CONCORDIA were Italian] and crews adopt the command culture of the captain. I’m sure you have seen it in reference to CO’s in your career. There are not enough data points to come to a settled conclusion, but given the gravity of making a mistake if you are a passenger aboard; if I could afford a cruise, I would a) avoid ships with Greek or Italian captains, and b) if I could, I would look into the background of the captain.

    From the best I can find, Schettino did not start his career with Costa Lines as a seagoing officer, but rather as a shipboard security specialist in 2002. By 2006 he was a ship captain. In the absence of details of operational seagoing assignments, it strikes me as a rather steep promotion curve.

    Subotai Bahadur

  3. Subotai – I read somewhere from an Italian newspaper that they (the Italians) hate this captain – because he reinforced all the stereotypes of Italians.

    I don’t know of this happening with another Italian captain but I think there was another cruise ship besides the Oceanos that had a Greek Captain – but I can’t remember the circumstances.

    I love Sgt Mom’s comment about being in safer hands with the entertainment staff – as to the young Peruvian waitress dying helping other passengers – that story makes one sick – reminds me of the stories of the WTC – in the book 102 Minutes there were numerous people helping others (let’s start with the fire fighters) who died while helping others.

    I can only hope that there is a reward in heaven for such people.

    As to that captain he seems like an arrogant narcissist without any regret for what he did.

    One can hope that he would hang himself in his cell, but I think he is under house arrest.

    Bill (trying this under my dual boot system – using Fedora 16 Linux)

  4. Bill Brandt … the captain appears to be in a snit because people are dissing him. They just don’t understand …

    I was going to say that I would never fly on a Greek or Italian airline … can you imagine an emergency aloft??? But I did once travel on Easyjet, but although owned by a creative and enterprising Greek, it was staffed entirely with Brits and it was registered as a British company.

  5. Verity – then there is EgyptAir – there was a bit or a row some years ago over the results of an accident investigation (Canadian or NTSB?) of an EgyptAir 767 that plummeted into the ocean off Canada.

    The investigators heard, on the black box, the Muslim prayer chants of the captain, and together with the fact the he was pushing the control yoke down, came to the conclusion that he deliberately crashed the airliner.

    The Egyptians were indignant at this finding and refused to accept it. Bad for tourism, I would think.

    At least with a ship accident you have some control over yourself – even if you have to think for yourself and ignore the “authorities”.

    I think on the Costa Concordia they told everyone to head for their cabins when they struck the rocks.

  6. Bill Brandt: “I think on the Costa Concordia they told everyone to head for their cabins when they struck the rocks.”

    I think you’re right. They told them it was no biggie.

    I have an aversion to flying with Islamic Airlines, although I’ve flown Gulf Air on a few occasions and it is world class. But, although I’ve never been, I think the Emirates in general are pretty peppy.

  7. I don’t think tourism will be a topic in Egypt for a few decades. I’ve done a couple of cruises and the crew that actually interact with passengers are quite helpful and seemed to be Filipino, mostly. and the officers seem to be from various countries. We had lots of lifeboat drills and it seems quite abnormal that they had not had one before the grounding. That seems reckless behavior on the part of that captain. Maybe it was a pattern.

  8. Dr Kennedy –

    I have over the years taken 2 Holland America cruises and both times we had lifeboat drills – and seriously conducted. On the Italian Captain I would think – over the years – his behavior would have been known – why would they trust him to a $500 million ship? (rhetorical question)

    On Egypt – I went there in 1983 – stayed at the Radisson Hotel in Giza – and one morning during breakfast (buffet) a group of Israeli tourists came in – and I thought – at the time – we were at the beginning of a new age.

    Those times are long gone.

    I think someone would be rather foolish going there today.

    I felt Anwar Sadat was a game changer for Egypt – giving them peace for the first time (they had known so much war since 1948) – I asked our guide about his popularity with the Egyptians.

    I got a surprising answer – that within the country he was not that popular – people believing that he was paying more attention to international affairs than internal affairs.

    He was assassinated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood within the military – the same nice people who are slowly building their power today with the “Arab Spring”.

  9. Bill Brandt and Michael Kennedy, I believe maritime law states that there must be a lifeboat drill within 24 hours of departure, but most of the big cruise lines from Britain, France … and, I expect, the US and Canada and Northern Europe, have thorough lifeboat drills before the ship slips anchor.

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